Review: Hanna (2011)

Director: Joe Wright

****

Many reviews of Hanna will doubtlessly make reference to Jean-Luc Godard’s dictum that all that’s needed to make a movie is a girl and a gun. Hanna boasts a girl with a gun, bow and arrow, great physical strength, reflexes and killer instincts. Kudos to director Joe Wright; you can’t accuse him of doing things by halves.

The Atonement director extends his range with this tale of a teenage girl (Saoirse Ronan), who has been raised by her father (Eric Bana) in rural Finland to be a perfect assassin. Being such a dangerous little tyke, the CIA (in the form of Cate Blanchett’s hard-ass agent Marissa) want to track Hanna down and capture her. Oddly enough, they do catch her, and haul her into their secret Moroccan base. This globetrotting tale gives Wright to work with a colourful and exciting palette. From the snowy Scandinavian wastes to the orange rock of the Moroccan desert, bright colour wraps around every frame. An attempted interrogation goes badly wrong, and Hanna escapes as the camera spins wildly whilst the score by the Chemical Brothers offers pounding beats. Atonement is undeniably elegant, but it almost feels anaemic compared to Hanna; it exudes unpredictability and energy. The same could be said of Ronan, who has to balance cold-bloodedness with innocence, as Hanna has little-to-no exposure to the outside world, and she does so wonderfully. It’s not every assassin you want to give a hug and some reassurance, but then she’s not unlike most 16-year-old girls: confused, and desperate to find her place in the world. The only difference is she’s plagued by hitmen instead of acne.

Once she’s escaped, Hanna has to find her father at a pre-arranged point in Germany. On the way, she learns more about her father, her late mother and the circumstances of her birth than she bargained for. Between this and the family of dippy hippies she hitches a lift with (led by Jason Flemyng and Olivia Williams), Hanna boasts more parental issues than a Spielberg marathon. With such bad parents, is it any wonder Hanna and her new hippy friend Sophie (Jessica Barden) have such skewed views of the world? Seth Lochhead and David Farr’s script is packed full of irreverence and whimsy; arguably, given the nature of the material, it may be too much whimsy. Some blackly comedic moments punctuate the tension, but then the guns start firing and people are running off again. It’s a balancing act between childlike wonder and adult thriller, and Wright pulls it off with lapsing too far into parody. That said, Blanchett seems a little rigid in her role, and the sight of a blonde Tom Hollander (playing an assassin pal of Marissa’s) in a tight gymsuit is just wrong. Then again, they may just be further layers of irreverence on top of a bizarre slice of Euro-flavoured thrills. Hanna, both character and film, are torn between giddiness and maturity, are both possibly too removed from reality from their own good, but are both utterly unique.

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